Earlier this year, we told you about the return of CryptoWall, malware that encrypts certain files in your computer and, once activated, demands a fine around $500 as a ransom to provide the decryption key. These kinds of financial fraud schemes target both individuals and businesses, are usually very successful and have a significant impact on victims. The problem begins when the victim clicks on an infected advertisement, email, or attachment, or visits an infected website.
Recently, a click fraud botnet with ties to CryptoWall has been discovered. The malware, nicknamed ‘RuthlessTreeMafia‘, has been being used to distribute CryptoWall ransomware. What first appears as an attempt to redirect user traffic to a search engine quickly mutates into an alarming threat as infected systems begin to download CryptoWall and system files and data become encrypted, rendering them useless by their owners. Click fraud and ransomware are two types of crimeware that are usually quite different from one another and typically don’t have many opportunities to join forces; therefore, the result of this unlikely yet powerful collaboration can be detrimental to its victims.
Remember when you used to make sure you were home at a certain time so you wouldn’t miss your favorite TV show? That was called “appointment television”, and those of you old enough to remember watching The X-Files or Friends when they originally aired know what I’m talking about. But, with the new USA Network show, Mr. Robot, it feels like those days are back again. Sure, I have my DVR set to record, but I will definitely watch it live. Since all my buddies are watching too, I will be itching to talk about it the next day.
Avast’s new Hack Chat video series brings back that around-the-watercooler discussion. Watch our debut episode here (10:13).
Avast Hack Chat: Episode 1 “Hello Friend” Program Notes
In episode 1 of Avast Hack Chat, host Ariana welcomes special guest, security researcher and software developer, Pedram Amini.
One of the largest e-commerce platforms, Magento, has been plagued by hackers who inject malicious code in order to spy and steal credit card data or any other data a customer submits to the system. More than 100,000+ merchants all over the world use Magento platform, including eBay, Nike Running, Lenovo, and the Ford Accessories Online website.
The company that discovered the flaws, Securi Security, says in their blog, “The sad part is that you won’t know it’s affecting you until it’s too late, in the worst cases it won’t become apparent until they appear on your bank statements.”
Data breaches are nothing new. The Identity Theft Research Center said there were 761 breaches in 2014 affecting more than 83 million accounts. You probably recall the reports of Sony, Target, Home Depot, and Chic Fil A.
We have heard lots about what we as individual consumers can do to protect ourselves: Use strong passwords, update your antivirus protection and keep your software patched, learn to recognize phishing software, and be wary of fake websites asking for our personal information.
But this kind of hack occurs on trusted websites and show no outward signs that there has been a compromise. The hackers have thoroughly covered their tracks, and you won’t know anything is wrong until you check your credit card bill.
So how do you minimize the risk of online shopping?
Here’s your wrap up of security and privacy related news from the June 17 – 27 posts on the Avast blog:
It’s summertime in the Northern Hemisphere and many people are going on or planning their vacation. Beware of fake vacation packages and beautiful rental properties that are not as they seem. These Vacation scams can ruin your holiday, so read up before you become a victim.
More than 600 million Samsung phones were reported to be at risk because of a vulnerability found in the keyboard app SwiftKey. The best way to protect yourself is to use a virtual private network (VPN) when using an unsecured Wi-Fi hotspot. If you have a Samsung S6, S5, or S4, you need to read Samsung phones vulnerable to hacker attack via keyboard update.
Cybercrooks run their organizations like businesses these days. They have multinational offices, marketing departments, business development, and technical support teams. Maybe they also need some security…
Malware entrepreneur sentenced to 57 months in prison
One such malware entrepreneur, Alex Yucel, sold malware through a website that he operated, to other hackers. The Blackshades malware allowed hackers to remotely control their victims’ computers. They could do such things as log the victim’s keystrokes, spy through webcams, and steal usernames and passwords for email and other services. They could also turn their computers into bots which were used to perform Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on other computers, without the knowledge of the victim.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said: “Alex Yucel created, marketed, and sold software that was designed to accomplish just one thing – gain control of a computer, and with it, a victim’s identity and other important information. This malware victimized thousands of people across the globe and invaded their lives. But Yucel’s computer hacking days are now over.” See the Department of Justice press release here.
Yucel sold the software for as little as $40 on PayPal and various black market forums. Read more…
For as long as there have been governments, there have been spy agencies, and for as long as there have been spy agencies, they’ve done spying. Spy agencies are always looking for ways to get information. Information is valuable, always has been, always will be. ~Avast CEO Vince Steckler
New documents from the many that were leaked by former US intelligence analyst Edward Snowden were published this week in The Intercept. They reveal that the U.S.’s National Security Agency (NSA) and its British counterpart, Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), spied on security companies including Avast, AVG, Kaspersky Lab, and Antiy. The spy agencies seem to be targeting non-American security companies; Avast and AVG are based in Prague, Czech Republic; Kaspersky is based in Moscow, Russia; and Antiy is Chinese. Together, these companies have nearly a billion users. No U.S. or U.K. -based companies were included in the list.
“Geopolitically, it makes sense that the NSA and GCHQ are targeting products that are prevalently used by foreign governments, like Kaspersky in Russia or CheckPoint in Israel,” said Steckler in an interview with RT News. “On the flip side, Russian or Chinese spy agencies may be similarly targeting products that the American government heavily uses, for example Symantec and McAfee. We’re hearing just one side of the story.”
Last night the pilot episode of MR. ROBOT, a new thriller-drama series aired on USA Network.
The show revolves around Elliot who works as a cyber security engineer by day and is a vigilante hacker by night.
I watched the episode and then sat down with Avast security expert Pedram Amini, host of Avast’s new video podcast debuting next week, to find out if someone like you or me could be affected by the hacks that happened in the show.
In the second minute of the episode we see Elliot explaining to Rajid, owner of Ron’s Coffee, that he intercepted the café’s Wi-Fi network, which lead him to discover that Rajid ran a child pornography website.
Stefanie: How likely is it that someone can hack you while you’re using an open Wi-Fi hotspot?
Pedram: Anyone with a just a little technical knowledge can download free software online and observe people’s activities on open Wi-Fi. We went to San Francisco, New York, and Chicago for a Wi-Fi monitoring experiment and found that one-third of Wi-Fi networks are open, without password-protection. If you surf sites that are unprotected, meaning they use the HTTP protocol, while on open Wi-Fi, then anyone can see, for example, which Wikipedia articles you are reading, what you’re searching for on Bing, and even see what products you are browsing for on Amazon and eBay, if you do not log in to the site.
Stefanie: Wow! That’s a bit frightening… How can I protect myself then?
Do you dream of lounging with an umbrella drink on a sunny beach, hiking by a pristine lake in the cool mountains, or leisurely strolling through a world class museum? As you begin to make summer vacation plans, much of it planned and reserved via the Internet, here are a few scams to be aware of:
Fake vacation rentals
Private vacation rentals are growing in popularity and it’s easy to find one these days through portals like Airbnb, HomeAway, and Craigslist. A typical scam starts with attractive pictures of a property in a desired location. The phony landlord, who is really a scam artist, requires an up-front deposit on the rental that is typically sent by wire transfer. When the happy family arrives at the destination, it either doesn’t exist, it’s not at all like it was described, or it is not available for rental. It may even belong to someone else, who lives there and has no knowledge of the transaction.
How to protect yourself from vacation rental scams
Don’t be fooled by pretty pictures. Photoshop is amazing and an artist can do all kinds of tricks with it. Ask the property owner to send you additional photos. You can even look it up on Google’s Street View to make sure the property and address actually exists.
Earlier this month, I was lucky enough to attend Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) in San Francisco, where mobile developers from far and wide came together to learn about the future of iOS and OS X systems. Along with being the first time I was able to participate in this sought-after conference, it was also my first time visiting San Francisco.
Once you get past its glitz and the glamour, the majority of the event revolves around waiting in a series of queues — long before the actual event began, the line for the event’s keynote lectures had formed around an entire city block. Although I wasn’t one of the first people to camp out there, I did arrive around 5:30 a.m. on Monday to stake out my spot. While the masses of people at WWDC can be a bit overwhelming, there really isn’t a better place to meet thousands of like-minded developers with whom one can strike up an interesting conversation discussing the ins and outs of of iOS development. Read more…
VPN service Hola, which has millions of users, recently came under fire for not being as up front with their users as they should have been. In the past weeks it has been revealed that Hola does the following:
- allows Hola users to use each others’ bandwidth
- sells their users’ bandwidth to their sister company Luminati (which recently helped facilitate a botnet attack)
- and, according to Vectra research, Hola can install and run code and additional software on their users’ devices without their users’ knowledge.
If you are an Hola user or if you know someone who uses Hola, please make sure you/they are aware of this.